Emilee Harmon signs with Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits for 2018

POWERHOUSE: Import star Emilee Harmon lead the league in rebounding and finished second in scoring in her last stint with the Lady Bandits, in 2014.

POWERHOUSE: Import star Emilee Harmon lead the league in rebounding and finished second in scoring in her last stint with the Lady Bandits, in 2014.

A FAMILIAR face will return to the court for the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits in 2018, with import Emilee Harmon announced as the club’s first major signing.

Harmon last played in Bandits blue in 2014, when she averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds, second and first in the league respectively.

The dominant 189-centimetre centre played for the Perth Redbacks in the WASBL in 2017, on the back of stints with SEABL teams Launceston and Nunawding in previous years.

Lady Bandits assistant coach Haydn Kirkwood said the former Ohio State Buckeyes star had been impressed with the direction the team had taken under head coach Jim Wilson in giving minutes to young players, and wanted to play a role mentoring the likes of Olivia Barber and Mel Kirby.

“If Emilee can come back and put up the same numbers she did last time she was here, that will be huge,” he said.

“She’d actually been in touch with us for a few months before (Bandits president Steve Wright) reached out and asked if she wanted to come back.

“She expressed some admiration for the junior direction we’ve gone with, liked where it’s going and will hopefully take on a mentoring role for us.” 

The Lady Bandits have emerged from the depths of SEABL irrelevance under Wilson, despite winning only six games in the past two seasons.

The marked shift towards playing younger, homegrown players has lead the team to becoming significantly more competitive against the league's best teams.

She expressed some admiration for the junior direction we’ve gone with, liked where it’s going and will hopefully take on a mentoring role for us

Haydn Kirkwood, Lady Bandits assistant coach

While Kirkwood acknowledged the team was still some ways off competing for a SEABL championship, he said there was no reason the club shouldn’t aim for a long-awaited playoff appearance if the young core continued to improve and the likes of Harmon could address some of the size and rebounding issues the team has struggled with.

Harmon’s elite post game, mid-range shooting and rebounding ability will make the lives of Olivia Barber and Mel Kirby easier.

Her ability to pass from the low-post will also be telling.

Starting point guard Steph Gorman will not be returning to the Lady Bandits in 2018 after committing to division one college Utah State earlier this year, however young guns Kirby, Barber, and Casey Ardern are all expected to play again.